Paul Jasionowski conducts the Atlanta Musicians' Orchestra (formerly Atlanta Lawyers Orchestra) in the Holocaust Memorial Garden at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta, GA USA for the ARA Yom Hashoah Community Observance on April 25, 2006.
The memorial concert featured Auschwitz Concentration Camp Survivor/Composer/Violinist Abe Gerson. [Paul passed away Tuesday, January 5, 2011. Abe passed away 1/25/11.]
Schindler's List (Theme), John Williams; Song Without Words, Gustav Holst; and Hatikvah, arranged by Elliot del Borgo.
To learn more about the Atlanta Musicians' Orchestra, please visit: http://alo.hillert.com/
To learn more about Abe Gerson, please visit: http://www.thebreman.org/exhibitions/online/newlives/profile.php?ID=74
The following is from Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra (@ACSOrchestra) 1/25/11:
It is with great memory and sadness that we mourn the loss, honor the memory and celebrate the life of Abe Gerson, someone so special who will be deeply missed. Mr. Gerson, violin, performed with the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra since 1970. Services will be held this Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. ET at Congregation Shearith Israel, 1180 University Dr. NE., Atlanta, GA 30306.
If you would like to make a special donation in honor of Abe, please send your checks to:
c/o Gloria Jacobson
1180 University Dr. NE.
Atlanta, GA 30306
Abe Gerson (originally Gershonowitz) was born in Lodz, Poland. His father died when Abe was six months old, and his mother died of cancer when he was about eight, at which time Abe went to live with his grandparents. In 1939, the Jewish community of Lodz was forced to move into the ghetto established there after the Nazi invasion. Abe's grandparents both died due to the inhumane living conditions within the confines of the ghetto, and Abe first lived with an uncle, who was soon caught and deported, and then he lived with his aunt and her three children.
Abe was a forced laborer in a shoe factory that produced shoes for German pilots. His supervisor there would hide Abe during actions. When the ghetto was liquidated in 1944, Abe, his aunt, and her children were deported in cattle cars to Auschwitz. When they arrived, Abe was separated out for slave labor and his aunt was sent to the gas chamber with her children.
At Auschwitz, Abe was recruited to play the violin in a small band that entertained drunken Nazi guards and their girlfriends in the evenings, for which they were given extra food. One of the kapos (inmate guards), understanding that the musicians would probably end up in the crematorium after receiving such special treatment, arranged for Abe to be sent to a work camp in Germany. Abe worked in three labor camps in ammunition factories and was liberated by American forces in 1945.
Abe was taken by the Red Cross to St. Ottilia, a Catholic monastery, part of which was turned into a hospital for the survivors. It was there that he was reunited with his friend from the Lodz ghetto, and his future wife, Miriam. It took two years for Abe to recuperate. He made contact with the help of an American captain with his uncle, Max Gerson, who had emigrated to Atlanta before the war. Abe and Miriam married and came together to America in 1947.
Abe and Miriam first lived with relatives in Columbus, Georgia, then moved to Atlanta, where Abe worked as a tailor for several fine department stores. Abe also rekindled his love for playing the violin, and was a member of the Atlanta Community Orchestra. Abe also composed "Rhapsody," which is a musical reflection of his experiences in Auschwitz. "Rhapsody" has been performed numerous times in the Atlanta area.
Abe is survived by his wife Miriam, their two children and two grandchildren.